October 2017, Cherrie Bucknor and Dean Baker

This paper compares employment rates by gender, race and ethnicity, and educational attainment from 2013 to 2015 in the 20 metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates and the 20 metro areas with the highest unemployment rates to get some measure of the disproportionate gains to disadvantaged groups from low unemployment.

The analysis in this paper strongly supports the view that relatively disadvantaged groups have been the major beneficiaries of recent declines in unemployment. In all cases, the gains for whites — and especially college-educated whites — were limited. This suggests that if the unemployment rate is allowed to fall further, there can be large additional benefits in employment, hours, and wages for the most disadvantaged groups in the labor force.

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